Hilary Purrington

Hilary Purrington

b. 1990



Hilary Purrington is a living composer of chamber, vocal, and orchestral music. Her work has received recognition from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP); the International Alliance for Women in Music; and the National Federation of Music Clubs (NFMC), among others.

Purrington’s orchestral and chamber works have been performed by many distinguished ensembles, including the Peabody Modern Orchestra, the American Modern Ensemble, Voices of Change, and the Chicago Harp Quartet. Her orchestral work Likely Pictures in Haphazard Sky, premiered by the Yale Philharmonia, has been read by the Philadelphia and American Composers Orchestras and performed by the Minnesota Orchestra. Recent commissions include new works for the New York Youth Symphony, American Composers Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the River Oaks Chamber Orchestra. For the 2018–19 season, Purrington was named the Sioux City Symphony Orchestra's Composer of the Year and served as composer-in-residence for the Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble. She is a 2020 recipient of an orchestral commission from the League of American Orchestra's Women Composers Readings and Commissions program, supported by the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

Purrington has also composed several works for dance. Most recently, the Albany Symphony commissioned Patterns, a new work for chamber orchestra. Inspired by the life of fashion arbiter Ellen Louise Demorest, the piece featured the Albany Berkshire Ballet with choreography by Mary Talmi. In 2018, Purrington participated in Periapsis Music and Dance’s Emerging Artist Residencies and created a new work with choreographer Annalee Traylor, which premiered in May 2019. While attending The Juilliard School, Purrington collaborated with choreographer Stephanie Terasaki to create a new work for brass quartet and dance.  

Also an accomplished vocalist, Purrington has developed a reputation as a skilled composer of solo and choral music. Her song For your judicious and pious consideration was premiered by mezzo-soprano Adele Grabowsky on the 2016 NY Phil Biennial’s New Music New Haven concert. In 2015, the Eric Stokes Fund commissioned Purrington to compose a new song cycle about the devastating effects of climate change. The resulting work, A Clarion Call, was premiered at the 2017 Conference for Ecology and Religion hosted by the Yale Divinity School. Recent vocal commissions include new works for the Melodia Women’s Choir of NYC, Yale Glee Club, inFLUX, and the Bowers/Fader Duo. In April 2019, C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective premiered John Eason Stops Preaching, a new work with words by contemporary poet Julia Bouwsma. She is currently working on a new opera for New Camerata Opera, created in collaboration with librettist Hannah McDermott and animator Ian Brauner.

A versatile collaborator, Purrington recently worked with children’s author Mo Willems and composed an original piece to appear in the book Because (Hyperion Books for Children, 2019). Illustrated by artist Amber Ren, Because tells the story of a young girl who devotes herself to studying music and grows up to become a professional conductor and composer. The book reached The New York Times’ Best-Seller List and continues to charm and inspire young readers across the world.

Originally from western Massachusetts, Purrington lives and works in Durham, North Carolina. She holds degrees from the Yale School of Music, The Juilliard School, and the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

Image Credit: Ramuel Galarza